For those of us that know our Health and Fitness Activations story, you know that I am really into running – 4:45am alarms, missing toenails, and stress fractures kind of into running. I ran my first marathon at 17 years old, and now I’ve got more than 20 years in the sport as a participant. I’ve got about same tenure in the sports-focused experiential marketing world.
Many companies target endurance athletes in their field marketing programs due to our higher-than-average income, passion for health, and brand loyalty. Through the years, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work when targeting runners. Today I’m sharing some tips for how to successfully engage with runners at running-related experiential marketing events, like marathon expos.
1. Know your stuff
As a group, runners care about the details. What can I consumer that will help me increase my endurance by 2%? Beet powder? Protein with BCAAs? If it works, we’re likely to be committed for life. But the key here is to know your stuff. Does your electrolyte drink offer all of the electrolytes, or is it missing calcium? Do you have science to back up your endurance claims? When you’re dealing with runners, knowing your product inside and out will help you create brand trial and loyalty.
2. Don’t overdue to the outfits
Yoga pants, minimal makeup, and hair in a bun might not work for most tradeshows, but for marathon expos, this will likely help you relate more to your target consumer than perfectly manicured nails and picture-perfect hair.
3. Photo ops
Combine today’s social media culture with runners’ desire to capture our big accomplishments and you can see why photo ops are a great activation. But it can’t be just any old photo op. It’s best if it’s something unique to the race, the city, or something that can be personalized.
4. Big smiles
Wherever you are activating, bring the big smiles. Our Marathon Breakfast Tour engages runners after their long run. Let me tell you from personal experience, the end of the long run is a sweet moment. It’s the crowning achievement of your week of hard work. Join the celebration with big smiles and high energy. Marathon Expos are similar – with the marathon being the culmination of months of hard work!
5. Offer something we can try later
Most seasoned runners are not going to try something new on race weekend. It could mess with our stomachs, give us blisters, or perhaps give us a rash. The bottom line is you want to introduce new products to runners before their race or give us products we can use another time.
6. Have something for the spectators
A sign making station, a t-shirt station, or another way of engaging the spectators can add a great opportunity for engagement. My husband, daughter, parents, in-laws, and sister have all joined me for various races around the world. Experiential marketing activations that include them are more likely to engage me too!
Engaging with runners where we feel most at home, at workouts and races, is a great way to build brand equity. We tend to be loyal to brands we feel fit in our space and tend to share our favorite brands with our fellow runners. I’ve been introduced to running shorts, beet supplements, gels, running shoes, socks, yoga mats, peanut butter brands, sunglasses, physical therapists and more from my running community. Will your brand be next?
Are you a runner? Share your favorite marathon expo booth experience below!